LAS VEGAS – If Sunday’s performance is any indication, Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth is ready for the stretch run.
Getting his first start since Brian Elliott went down with an injury in the previous game, Neuvirth stopped 38 of 39 shots as the Flyers defeated Vegas, the team with the best record in the Western Conference, 4-1, on Sunday night.
General manager Ron Hextall said he would have a medical update Tuesday.
The Flyers, playing on consecutive nights, were outshot, 39-18 on Sunday, but made the most of their opportunities against all-star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
“When you come in on back-to-back nights and the other team is rested, your goaltender is going to need to be a centerpiece for you,” coach Dave Hakstol said, “and Neuvy for sure was that for us.”
“Neuvy was the best player out there,” captain Claude Giroux said after the Flyers escaped with a victory that was attended by at least 3,000 of their orange-clad fans in Vegas.
The Flyers did a good job of keeping most of Vegas’ scoring chances to the outside.
“Hell of an effort,” said Hakstol, whose team hosts New Jersey on Tuesday. When playing on back-to-back nights, he added, “you have to have guys who are willing to lay it on the line and scratch and claw and find a way. I think that sums up a little bit about our hockey team.”
Neuvirth rebounded from his previous start, a 5-3 clunker in Washington on Jan. 31 in which he allowed five goals on 20 shots and was relieved by Alex Lyon. On Saturday, he made four saves (another shot was flubbed) after relieving Elliott and sparking the Flyers to a 4-3 shootout win in Arizona.
“It gave me a lot of confidence coming into this game,” Neuvirth said.
The Flyers have belief in Neuvirth, who has a 2.50 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
“We know we have a great goalie in Neuvy stepping in,” said defenseman Andrew MacDonald before scoring the winning goal in Vegas. “We have plenty of confidence in him. Obviously, you have to rely on both goalies during a season.”
The Flyers have spent most of the season trying to get into a wild-card playoff spot. But thanks to two-plus months of excellence, they have climbed into third place in the Metropolitan Division. They have inched to within one point of second-place Pittsburgh and five points of first-place Washington.
They are 20-8-2 since ending their 10-game losing streak Dec. 4.
“Our goals remain in place and they remain behind closed doors,” Hakstol said. “This team competes hard every day for one another and sticks together.”
Giroux was named the NHL’s No. 1 star of the week.
Calgary left winger Johnny Gaudreau, a South Jersey native, was the No. 2 star, and Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk was the No. 3 star.
In four games, all wins, Giroux collected six points, including three goals. Giroux was scoreless in a 2-1 overtime win in Carolina — he sharply criticized his performance after the game — but then accumulated six points over the next three games.
Entering Monday, Giroux, 30, was tied for fourth in the NHL with 64 points — six more points than his total in 2016-17, when he was battling the lingering effects of off-season hip and abdominal surgeries. The Flyers’ Jake Voracek, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos also had 64 points before Monday.
Sunday marked just the eighth time in Flyers history — and the first time in 12 years — that their opponent didn’t receive a penalty. The Flyers had only one penalty….The Flyers are 2-1 against New Jersey this season, including a 4-3 loss Feb. 1 with Lyon in goal. The Devils hold the Eastern Conference’s top wild-card spot and are three points behind the Flyers, with a game in hand.